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Jurors in triple murder case view grisly photos

YOUNGSTOWN — The second day of testimony on Thursday in a 2018 South Side triple homicide did not involve emotional testimony about a young couple and their infant child who were shot to death, as highlighted on the first day of the trial on Wednesday.

Instead, jurors looked at a television screen for hours, seeing crime-scene photographs of two small cars parked one in front of the other in the devil strip in front of 702 Pasadena Ave. on the South Side late Nov. 7, 2018, and the next day.

The photos, grimly and quietly, gave an unflinching look at the damage more than 20 gunshots did to a young man, woman and their 3-month-old child in November 2018.

They showed a gray Saturn parked behind a white Ford Focus. In some photos, the body of Edward Morris, 21, could be seen in the driver’s seat of the Saturn, his head against the head rest but facing up after he had been killed.

Others showed the place in the front passenger seat where Valarcia Blair, 19, had been seated when numerous gunshots — most apparently from an assault rifle — were fired into the car.

Morris and Blair were killed, along with their 3-month-old son, Tariq Morris, who was in a car seat in the back when the gunfire erupted about 7 p.m. The two men charged with the killings went on trial this week. They are Taquashon Ray of Youngstown and Shainquon Sharpe of Columbus, both 25.

Some photos were taken after Morris’s body had been removed from the car by the coroner’s office. They showed blood on both front seats and on the console in between.

Scores of photos showed several bullet holes in the front windshield, bullet holes in the driver’s side door and side mirror, a bullet hole in the rear driver’s side door, the rear windshield shattered, a bullet hole in the rear fender, one near the rear license plate and one in the rear passenger side fender.

The photos also showed four bullet shell casings near the front of the car and crime-scene placards near each one. The photos showed bullet shell casings on the ground near the driver’s side of the car, also on the ground behind the car and on the ground on the passenger side.

In all, Youngstown police crime scene investigator Brad Ditullio described what he found at 24 locations around the Saturn, each location marked with an evidence placard in the photographs. Most of the items were bullet shell casings, though one or more were bullets.

Under questioning by assistant Prosecutor Rob Andrews, Ditullio explained that some of the evidence was found in the front yard of 702 Pasadena Ave. Other casings were found “down Pasadena,” Ditullio said. A casing is a part of the bullet cartridge –in addition to the bullet — that is expelled from a gun when it is fired.

A house across the street from 702 Pasadena also was hit by gunfire, Ditullio testified.

He also recovered two shell casings from the driver’s side floor of the Saturn. And, Ditullio testified that a handgun of a different caliber from the shell casings found outside of the car was recovered from inside the car.

Other police officers testified Wednesday that they found the gun in the hand of Morris just after they arrived. Prosecutors say he fired at least one time.

Detullio also testified that most of the shell casings were for ammunition usually used in an assault rifle, such as an AK-47, but casings from one other type of ammunition also were found.

Sharpe and Ray are charged with aggravated murder, murder, tampering with evidence and other offenses and could get life in prison if convicted.

The trial will resume today and is expected to also continue into next week.

erunyan@vindy.com

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